canada general hiking snow trip reports

Winter Solstice sunrise

We did it! The sun is coming back! Huzzah to all Northern Hemispherians, the evil Southern Hemisphere is now bound to return our sun to us.

We left town at 6am, and hiked up to the summit of Ha Ling Peak to arrive just as the sky was starting to lighten, at around 7.45am. On the one hand, it was beautiful. On the other, it was very windy (the forecast was calling for 30km/hr, gusting to 50km/hr). There may have been some huddling.

Poor Lincoln was just about freezing to death.

There was some attempted photography inbetween bouts of huddling.

Then the rest of the crew made a brief stop at the summit.

At which point we all decided it was time to start heading down.

As we reached the saddle below the peak, the pink in the sky started to brighten with the sunrise proper, and we took a few more photos before scarpering back down the hill.

The trail is mostly in good condition at the moment – some ice lower down, but mostly packed snow. Two years in a row (three if you count the time I went up the day after solstice) this is becoming a solstice tradition.

canada general hiking

Five Dames and a Dog: Winter Solstice Expedition

The expedition was planned to ascend Ha Ling Peak, meeting in town at 6.15am, loading the crates of champagne into our cars, and setting off from there.

The trail was well packed, but it was still slow going, so we didn’t make it to the summit for sunrise. At least we were at treeline as all the clouds turned brilliant shades of pink though.

It was a glorious morning for it, calm and crisp, and the views were wonderful once we made it to the summit.

And now the sun is returning! Thank you sun!

Darkly through the trees we set off

Melissa at sunrise

Lulu and Sarah at sunrise

Kat, bringing her sister Michelle along for her first mountain ascent

Making our way up the snowy scree slope

Sleepy looking Canmore

Morning light on Ha Ling Peak summit

Sarah on her way to the summit


On the way down, I realised how late it was getting, so I ended up running Lulu back down to the car, before running myself back down to town.


epic epic epic

I cycle away from the marina. As the bike path draws close to the river again, I notice a flash of light near the ground, then another – fireflies? I push my sunglasses down and coast along, watching the sides of the path – woohoo, fireflies! I dump my bike, and catch a couple, to stash in my backpack net pocket. Hey, this is easy. I cycle on a bit further, then get tempted by the fireflies and grab a few more, to keep the other ones company.

Home – next phase of my mission is to get quarters for the washing machine, so I can do laundry. I have no cash, so I decide the logical way to proceed is to go to CVS, seeing as it’s 50 metres from my house; buy something, get cash out, and ask for some quarters as part of my change. I wander up and down the aisles – gah, I don’t really need anything. Grab some hairties, queue, they are busy. Do I want to donate $1 to some random charity? Yeah, fine. What, I have to write my name on a star? Whatever, I just want some quarters. I have no money in my American bank account, so I go to use my Australian debit card. Does not go through. Damnit, try again. Does not go through. Fine, I’ll use the credit card. Goes through fine, but hang on, I’m getting my receipt, and walking out the door, there was no cash out option. Argh! Fine. Walk down to the ATM, withdraw $100 cash using Australian debit card. Where to get change? Well I could just grab a kids meal from Chipotle I guess. Oh, but instead of the sign about kids meals, there’s a sign telling me that Solstice is on Tuesday June 21st, and if I buy a burrito on that day, I can come back any time that week and get a free burrito. Distracted. Fine, I’ll grab some soft tacos, I should have dinner anyway.

I hand my money over to the manager man who always reminds me of Billy Joel. He has the manner, however, of a clown at a children’s birthday party. Every time he hands me my change and says “There you go”, I feel like I’m being handed a balloon animal. As I walk back to my apartment I remember the fireflies in my backpack – aha! I hope they’re still ok.

Dash home, grab laundry, throw it on by 9.30. Go back up to my apartment, look for my fireflies. Three remain. One wanders off as I’m getting them out of the backpack, and disappears into my apartment. I leave the others to hang out on my windowsill. They don’t seem to be doing much. I hope they’re ok. By the morning they’ve all disappeared. At least I got my laundry done.